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Call of Duty Annihilation Map Pack Review (360)

Game Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation Map Pack
Release: June 28th, 2011
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Treyarch
Available Platforms: 360, PS3, PC (only released for 360 so far)
Players:  up to 16 online
MSRP: $15
ESRB Rating: M
Website: Call of Duty

The third map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops was released this week on June 28th for Xbox 360. Offering four multiplayer maps and a new Nazi Zombies map,  Annihilation is sure to add countless hours to your Call of Duty experience (as if you haven’t already played the game enough).

The four multiplayer maps, Silo, Hangar 18, Drive-In, and Hazard, will take you to a new series of locales, while the Nazi Zombies map Shangri-La brings you to ruins in a jungle for a truly ridiculous experience.
Silo is set in a Russian missile base and has ICBM’s launching off around you as you play. Hangar 18 is set in a hangar, as the name states, and has a SR-71 Blackbird sitting in the middle of the map. Drive-In brings you to an abandoned movie theater with big open area between the projector building and screen, giving snipers a good place to hide. The final map, Hazard, is set on a South American golf course, and also provides many long open areas for long distance combat.

Hazard is the only map that breaks away from the dreary browns of Black Ops and it is the most impressive map of the bunch. On one side, paths littered with boulders lay against a cliff side providing many places to hide and surprise your enemies. The other side of the map has another long walkway connecting a fountain and a pro shop. The center green acts as a divider for these two areas and creates a great dynamic. You can have two blazing gunfights going on on each side and have reinforcements running through the center trying to avoid sniper fire. Its my personal favorite of the bunch and I think it is a great map for both team deathmatch and objective oriented games like demolition. Its the standout map of the pack, and one of the best maps in Black Ops overall.

Drive-In is the other sniper oriented map. The entire center of the map is a huge abandoned drive-in movie theater, allowing vantage points from the projectors building and a hole in the screen on the other side. Often times with maps like this however, these obvious areas are not very effective because its where you look first. Small pathways loop around the lot which provide cramped, but segmented areas for fighting. Behind the projection screen are a few empty building that make great camping areas because of their seclusion.

Silo is littered with building and missile silos and is a rather large map. All the buildings and materials spread around the map really hinder line of sight giving it a very tight feel. The map is also set on a hill, giving players a vantage point. On the low side of the map sits a tower with fairly good cover that leaves snipers well protected from anything but grenades.  An underground tunnel stretches across the map giving another route to take, and it makes the map great for objective modes like demolition and sabotage.

Hangar-18 is the stinker of the pack. While the Sr-71 Blackbird that you can walk across looks cool, the map is far to open and simple, and symmetrical. In two opposite corners sit two towers, with the hangar in the middle, and the other two corners are filled with boxes and small buildings to create a grid of pathways. The map does not do a good job at spreading the combat across the map, so most of the combat takes place by the towers and hangar giving it a cramped feel.  I always groan when this one pops up, especially in objective modes, because it just doesn’t play very well.

I personally am not a big fan of the Nazi Zombies mode, so I cant offer much commentary on the Shangri-La map, especially because I could hardly find people to play it with. As popular as the mode is, its very teamwork oriented, meaning that most players avoid random matches. I was only able to play a little bit of Shangri-La but what I did play was pretty insane. The map is huge, starting outside ruins of a temple and stretching all the way down to a series of underground caverns. In between lies a rope bridge and a puzzle maze that has different walls descend from the ceiling depending on where you walk. Once you reach the caverns a geyser  can shoot you (and other zombies) back up to the starting area. Its a very large and complex map, but it seems like it might be filled more with gimmicks then substance.

Overall the Annihilation Map Pack is a standard release for Black Ops. Its a formula Activision has stuck with for all the maps packs and for a series so big, you know they are not gonna release a bad pack.  Whats impressive  is seeing how much Treyarch has grown.  People used to dread the Treyarch developed Call of Duty games, but with Black Ops they have finally shown their talent, and they are continuing with these map packs. Coming in at 1200msp ($15), the Annihilation Map Pack is worth getting if you have started to get bored with Black Ops and want some new locales to mix up the fighting. Right now its only available for the Xbox 360 but it will be coming to the PS3 and PC sometime in the future.

+Hazard is truly excellent!
-Hangar-18 however, is not
– $15 price point is high

8 out of 10

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